I walked out of the Man of Steel FURIOUS that it wasn’t the Superman movie I wanted. (much like I was furious star trek into darkness ruined the idealism of star trek. and was… “slightly perturbed” that Iron Man 3 had Tony Stark fighting some uzi holding body guards at a florida drug fortress. each of these movies pushed their established tones into strange new places). But I’m coming around.
Some fascinating insights from the writer, David Goyer, and smart ass comic book geek Kevin Smith, have added up to me being much more on board with what the Man of Steel was trying to do.
A) In this movie: he’s not a mythic hero. he’s an alien.
This movie wasn’t Captain America (about an American Aspiration)- it was Independence Day (about the cultural disruption of being attacked by aliens).
The filmmakers made it clear they didn’t want to just deliver the same superman. and that they wanted to ground him. but critics don’t seem to be able to grok this.
So, the film is an alien first contact film. not a jesus on earth film. not an american idealism film. and it isn’t about a boyscout.
B) In a post 9/11 world, the “symbol to aspire to” approach doesn’t work. It worked for Captain America because : he is from the 40s. not the now.
It hurts my geek heart that they made a new version of the character, but: They made a new version of the character!
As an origin story, it sets up why (SPOILERS):
– superman will never kill again. Zod made it clear that for everyone person that Superman saved, zod would kill zillions. It might have been nice to show superman trying to save some people, and Zod killing 10 for every 1. Then the audience might be more on board with “just focus on zod.” but the filmmakers didn’t want to show superman screwing up.
And to be fair, I only thought “superman should have been saving people” AFTER the movie. not during the extended punching sequence. The sequence focused on the emotion of a young alien directly trying to stop an old military alien – and ruining a human city in the process.
C) like most Zack Snyder movies : people reject what it is trying to do.
They act like he is stupid, and failing to deliver what would obviously please the audience. But he is smart, and was trying to do something else for the audience.
You shouldn’t hate an entertainer for failing to deliver a thing : when they weren’t actually trying to deliver it.
Case in point : Ka Kent tells clark to wait until the right point to reveal himself, or the people of earth will hate and fear him. – yet many critics complain that clark was outed, instead of choosing to reveal himself. And then they offer their oh-so-insightful logic that : the people of earth will probably just hate and fear him now.
It was right there on the screen, people! AHHH!